The Anonymous Widower

Greater Anglia Launches New Intercity Trains On Norwich-London Route

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

The first Class 745 train to enter service left Norwich this morning at 0740 and arrived in Liverpool Street on time at 0924.

There is a more informative article in the East Anglia Daily Times, which is entitled East Anglia’s New Intercity Train Carries Its First Passengers.

Points include.

  • There is a cafe bar and First Class accommodation.
  • I’ve read elsewhere, there will be a trolley service.
  • All ten trains are expected to be in service by the end of March.
  • They will be introduced at a rate of one train per week.
  • Introduction will enable services run by older trains to be run by eight or nine carriages.
  • There are wide passages between carriages.
  • Seats are firmer than the older carriages.
  • Passengers liked the headrests.
  • Wi-fi is getting good reports.
  • Lots of charging points.
  • Step-free access is very good.
  • On-board toilets are fine.
  • One passenger said there were more tables.
  • Another passenger thought the new trains better than the old ones.

Inevitably these new trains will be compared with Hitachi’s Class 802 trains and other members of the family.

Operating Speed

These Stadler trains and the bi-mode Class 755 trains are only 100 mph trains, as that is the maximum speed anywhere in East Anglia.

But a driver told me, that both trains are designed for 125 mph and as some of their European siblings, run at that speed in service, I have no reason to disbelieve him.

On the other hand, the Hitachi trains are capable of 125 mph or 140 mph, where in-cab digital signalling is installed.

Train Length

The lengths of the two trains are as follows.

  • A nine-car Class 802 train is 234 metres long.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train is 236.6 metres long.

The difference won’t matter much, whre it concerns, the stations, that the trains can serve.

Passenger Entry

Doors are different on the two trains.

  • A nine-car Class 802 train has two single doors on each side of the car or 18 single doors per train on each side.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train a pair of double doors on each side of the car or 24 doors per train on each side.

Train-And-Platform Step

This picture shows the step across in a Class 802 train.

And this picture shows the step across in a Stadler Class 745 train.

All trains should have an entry like this at all platforms.

Passenger Capacity

  • A nine-car Class 802 train holds 576 standard, 71 First or 647 total passengers.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train holds 757 total passengers, including some First Class.

The Greater Anglia train holds seventeen percent more passengers in a train of the same overall length.

Do passengers sit in each other’s laps?

No! I suspect it’s all down to good design.

Exit From A Full Train

Many InterCity trains arrive at their destination full and passengers are in a hurry to get on with their journey.

  • A full nine-car Class 802 train has 35 passengers per single door, a narrow lobby and a step down onto the platform.
  • A twelve-car Class 745 train has 62 passengers per double doors, a more spacious lobby and level access to the platform.

I shall be watching as a Class 745 train unloads 757 passengers at Liverpool Street station in the Peak.

C

 

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Azumas Now Have A Virtuous Sister

As I arrived in Kings Cross tonight from Leeds, one of Hull Trains’s new Paragons was in the next platform to the LNER Azuma, that I arrived in.

The Azuma is a Class 800 train and the Paragon is a Class 802 train.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong commercial battle, between the two train companies on the route between London and Hull

  • Both companies are running new, modern trains.
  • At present LNER run just one train per day to and from Hull, with Hull trains running around half-a-dozen trains per day.
  • Hull Trains are the only company that runs on Sunday to Hull.
  • It should be noted that the Hitachi trains seem to be fairly agile and I wouldn’t be surprised that they could reach Scarborough via Beverley, Driffield and Bridlington.

I don’t think passengers to and from East Yorkshire will be losing out!

 

 

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?

As currently envisioned, High Speed Two is very much an English project, with the following routes

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Birmingham
  • London and Manchester Airport/Manchester via Birmingham and Crewe
  • London and Sheffield via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub
  • London and Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub

There are large numbers of mid-sized towns and cities that it won’t serve directly.

The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Crewe
  • London and Manchester via Crewe
  • London and Glasgow via Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle
  • London and Blackpool via Crewe, Wigan, Preston
  • London and North Wales via Crewe and Chester.

It could probably be considered a two or two-and-a-half nation line, as it serves the Western half of Scotland and the Northern half of Wales.

Add the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and you get a line, that serves a lot more places like Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, Stafford, Stoke and Wigan.

  • The current plan for both routes envisage them both being run by Avanti West Coast, so it looks like High Speed Two is being designed to work with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Destinations like Carlisle, Glasgow and Preston will be served using the West Coast Main Line.
  • Compatible trains will be built that can be run on both lines.
  • Some stations will be shared.

It does seem that there are advantages, if the two routes are considered as one system.

The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Cambridge
  • London and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • London and Lincoln via Newark.
  • London and Leeds via Doncaster
  • London and Hull
  • London and Edinburgh via Doncaster, York and Newcastle

The East Coast Main Line could become another high speed line.

Extra services could be added.

  • London and Norwich via Cambridge
  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Grimsby and Cleethorpes via Lincoln.
  • London and Sheffield via Doncaster.

Add the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and there could be a wider range of towns and cities served.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster could play the same role in the East as Birmingham and Crewe will play in the West.
  • The East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster will be upgraded to in-cab ERTMS signalling in a few years time, which will allow 140 mph running on several sections of the route.
  • Improvements are either under way or being planned to reduce bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If High Speed Two can handle eighteen trains per hour (tph), then surely the East Coast Main Line, which has a lot of quadruple track, can handle upwards of twelve 140 mph trains per hour between London and Doncaster, after the improvements to track and signalling.
  • I estimate that 140 mph running between London and Doncaster could save as much as twenty minutes.
  • I feel that Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York could all be reached in under two hours from London using the existing Azuma trains.
  • This morning the 0700 from Kings Cross is timetabled to reach York at 0852. Would it be possible for London and York to be around just ninety minutes?
  • Savings would also apply to trains between London and Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scotland and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour journeys between London and Edinburgh would be commonplace.

Note that the Internet gives a driving time of nearly three and a half hours between London and Leeds. Surely, two hours or less on High Speed Yorkshire would be much preferable.

I would add this infrastructure.

  • There might be a good case to create electrified routes to Hull and Sheffield and between Sheffield and Leeds, but they wouldn’t be needed to start the service or obtain the time savings. But they would ease operation, cut carbon emissions and save a few more minutes.
  • A station at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
  • A parkway station at Barnsley on the Dearne Valley Line with direct services to Doncaster, Leeds, London and Sheffield.

The two latter improvements have been proposed in Sheffield Region’s transport plans.

High Speed Yorkshire should be finished as soon as possible. A completion date of 2024 is not unreasonable.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a plan to build an East-West high speed line or at least a much faster one, than the overcrowded joke, that presently exists.

I discussed the latest thinking in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North and the latest thinking and my views can best be summarised as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will be an improved line with some new sections, between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will connect at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will share infrastructure.
  • The High Speed Two route to Manchester would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • The High Speed Two route to Liverpool would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Warrington
  • Hull will get a London service from High Speed Two via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds

The Oakervee review of High Speed Two is also underway and leaks are suggesting, that the report is recommending that High Speed Two be built in full, but differently.

One important thing, that is happening, is that Network Rail have started the procurement process to improve the current line between Leeds and Huddersfield, as I reported in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

  • Extra tracks will be built.
  • There will be some extra electrification.

I very much feel, that this is one of the most difficult TransPennine sections to improve.

The other sections are summarised as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester Airport via Warrington and High Legh is across the flat lands of North Cheshire and could follow the M56.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester will probably be a high speed tunnel.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield section could possibly be improved in the short term
  • Leeds and Hull and the required connections to the East Coast Main Line are in the flat lands of East Yorkshire.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have a plan in there to perhaps deliver improved services East of Huddersfield and radiating from Leeds in the next few years.

It certainly needs improvement, as the TransPennine route must be the worst main line in the UK.

A One-Nation Railway

I think these lines can be connected to create an integrated high speed network.

  • High Speed Two
  • West Coast Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail

But.

  • It doesn’t connect to the whole country and needs to be extended.
  • It won’t be fully developed until at least 2035.
  • Improvements are needed now!

So what could be substantially delivered of the core network, by say 2024, which is around the date of the next General Election?

  • Faster and more frequent services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • An electrified higher capacity and faster line between Leeds and Huddersfield and possibly between Leeds and Hull.
  • New East Coast Main Line services from London to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Nottingham, Scarborough and Sheffield and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour services between London and Edinburgh.
  • New local services to connect Blyth and Ashington to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle.
  • A Tees Valley Metro  connecting Bishop Auckland, Whitby and all in between to the East Coast Main Line at Darlington.
  • Improved local services between York and Leeds via Harrogate, Sheffield and Leeds via the Dearne Valley and on other lines in Yorkshire.

Effectively, the recommendations of this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, which apply to Leeds and Sheffield would have been implemented to connect to high speed services at Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Yprk.

Technology used would include.

  • Some more electrification using the power from the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Conventional electric trains and compatible battery trains.
  • Tram-trains feeding into the Sheffield Supertram.
  • ERTMS digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and the major branches to Hull, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There would also need to be an increase in LNER’s Azuma fleet. But that is already rumoured as I wrote in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

Could we see as many as twelve Axumas per hour between London and Doncaster? Yes!

Could it all be delivered by the 2024 General Election? Yes!

High Speed Scotland

The Scottish Nationalist Party is pushing for High Speed Two to be extended to Scotland.

I think that this will eventually be a feasible project, but it will be a very expensive and perhaps built around 2040.

These are my thoughts for the next few years up to 2024.

High Speed To Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh currently supports a half-hourly service to and from London.
  • East Coast Trains are proposing to add five trains per day to this route.
  • TransPennine Express will run an hourly service between Edinburgh and Liverpool, via Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, which starts at the December 2019 timetable change..
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Aberdeen and Plymouth.
  • It looks like Edinburgh and Newcastle have a four tph service.

All services, except the CrossCountry  are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802 or 803 trains.

  • Currently, services take ninety minutes for the 125 miles between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • The Hitachi trains are all capable of 140 mph with digital signalling.
  • The Hitachi trains have better acceleration.
  • The route is fully electrified. Although, there are reports it needs enhancing to be able to handle the current number of trains.

How many minutes can be taken off thjs route, with a new timetable on a line running only Hitachi high speed trains?

Probably not that many, but it would ensure all London and Edinburgh trains were under four hours.

But it will all happen by 2024?

High Speed To Glasgow

So Edinburgh is alright, but what about Glasgow?

Consider.

  • Glasgow currently supports an hourly service to and from London.
  • TransPennine Express run an hourly service to and from Manchester Airport
  • TransPennine Express will run a three trains per day service to and from Liverpool.

Glasgow has a much lower frequency service to and from England than Edinburgh.

Currently, London and Glasgow takes over four-and-a half hours and there is going to be no serious improvement, until High Speed Two opens to Crewe, when the time could drop to perhaps just over three-and-a half hours.

But that won’t happen until possibly 2030.

In Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?, I detail a cunning plan, that might allow London and Glasgow in four hours.

This was my conclusion in the other article.

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

There may be advantages in replacing the Pendelinos with the Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains on the London and Glasgow service as early as possible.

  • There would be a large increase of capacity between London and Glasgow.
  • What would be the possible speed of the Classic-compatible trains on updated track North of Crewe? I will assume 140 mph, but it could be more! That’s called engineering!
  • London and Glasgow timings would be improved, as soon as digital signalling is installed.
  • The trains would get a thorough testing before the opening of High Speed Two to Birmingham.

At least one platform at Glasgow Central would need to be extended to take a four-hundred metre long train.

According to Wikipedia, the Classic-compatible trains will be introduced from 2026.

I think by the December 2026 timetable change Glasgow could see a four-hour service to and from London.

But could it be 2024, if the Pendelinos can pick up time North of Crewe with digital signalling?

The Borders Railway

If High Speed Two is going to be a One Nation project, the Borders Railway must be extended from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.

Could this be done by 2024?

It would be a close-run thing! But possible!

The Glasgow South Western Line

The Glasgow South Western Line, is a secondary route between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It should be electrified early, so that during the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle it can be used as a diversionary route.

Scotland Could Have Two Four-Hour Fully-Electrified Routes To And From London

But it’s not just London that gets good connectivity to and from Scotland!

  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Carlisle
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Preston
  • Wolverhampton
  • York

All these cities will have direct connections to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow.

High Speed Midlands

Almost unnoticed and with little fuss, the Midland Main Line is being upgraded to provide 125 mph services between London and Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • New Hitachi bi-mode Class 804 trains will improve speeds and increase capacity
  • Over the last decade or so, the track has been upgraded for 125 mph running.
  • Electrification will reach between London and Market Harborough.
  • Market Harborough station has been remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • The Corby branch will be electrified with the trains running half-hourly.

I also think, that the Midland Main Line will link into all the improvements between Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield and provide the following.

  • A high speed route between Leeds and the East Midlands.
  • A route for a Barnsley and London service.
  • A second route for Leeds and London services..

It also seems that rail planners are getting innovative with the design of the Midland Main Line.

  • It appears that the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two’s spur to Sheffield will be combined into an electrified line between Clay Cross and Sheffield via Chesterfield.
  • An improved link to the East-West Rail link at Bedford could improve links between the North-East and the South of England.
  • The disused rail line between Market Harborough and Northampton could be reopened.

The line is a lot more than a connection between London and the East Midlands.

The upgrade should be complete by 2024.

East West Rail

East West Rail is still in a long planning stage, but it now looks likely to provide more than a passenger link between Oxford and Cambridge.

  • New freight routes for Felixstowe and Southampton.
  • Extra passenger services between Oxford and Reading in the West and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich in the East.
  • Connections to the Great Western Main Line, the Chiltern Line, West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.

It has also been suggested that East West Rail should be connected to High Speed Two at a new station at Calvert. This could give Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton good links to and from High Speed Two.

Great Western Main Line

At the December 2019 timetable change, there has finally been some good news in the saga of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

  • Services between London and Bristol have been improved.
  • The timetable has been improved.

Whether it will stand up is another matter.

Certainly by 2024, it will be a much better main line.

It could have full digital in-can signalling, which could result in 140 mph running and journey time savings.

Who knows?

But what excites me is the possibility of a connection between High Speed Two and East West Rail at Calvert, which will allow trains to run between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, in Wales and the West and the North on a mainly electrified high speed railway.

High Speed North Wales

Avanti West Coast is purchasing thirteen new Hitachi bi-mode trains to run services to Chester and North Wales.

I can’t see much speed improvement in the services, although if the West Coast Main Line gets digital signalling, this could save a few minutes between London and Crewe.

High Speed Ireland

The technology is now available to build a rail bridge between Scotland and the island of Ireland.

I laid out the arguments in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!.

The Lincoln Solution

Lincoln is a city, that has been ignored by UK railways for decades.

But not any more as LNER now run six return trips a day to the city on Mondays to Saturdays and five on Sundays.

I wrote about the improvements in The Shape Of Train Services To Come.

How many other cities and large towns would benefit from a Lincoln solution?

LNER have already launched a similar service to Harrogate at the December 2019 timetable change and I’m sure that more will follow.

Disability And Access Issues

A true one-nation railway wouldn’t exclude anybody from using the trains.

Strides have been made to put up step-free bridges, but some of the access between platform and train is truly dreadful.

This picture shows what can be achieved by good design on a Class 755 train.

And this is the step on one of Hitachi’s new trains.

Note that all doors on these Hitachi trains are also far too narrow.

Some train manufacturers can do much better.

Recurring Themes

In this analysis, there are factors that keep cropping up.

Digital Signalling Or ERTMS

This is the key to squeezing more trains into our overcrowded railway.

Between London and Doncaster on the East Coast Main Line, should be operational in a few years and I believe the following lines should follow as soon as possible.

  • East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York and possibly Newcastle.
  • East Coast Main Line North Of Newcastle
  • West Coast Main Line North Of Crewe
  • West Coast Main Line South Of Crewe
  • Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I believe that in-cab digital signalling is a major key to increasing capacity.

Faster Line Speeds

Some routes like TransPennine, have Victorian line speeds

Network Rail showed how it could improve line speed with the remodelling at Market Harborough station.

Bottlenecks, like the Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich need immediate removal, no matter what the Heritage Taliban and other Luddites say.

New Hitachi Trains

There will be several more orders for the next generation of Hitachi’s high speed trains.

I have been critical of Hitachi’s manufacturing processes for these trains in the past, but they seem now to be running well in fleet service.

A standard UK train on 125 mph lines, that can also handle 140 mph with digital signalling must be a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

New Feeder Services

Several new feeder services have been indicated and there should be a lot more of these to bring the benefit of the high speed network to more of the UK population.

Delivering The Improvements

Geographically, the places where improvements are needed are spread thinly around the country and vary from projects with a cost of tens of millions to those with costs of tens of billions.

In the UK, we tend to go for the big hit, when perhaps several smaller ones might give a better short-term improvement.

We also duck projects, which would annoy the noisy local interests.

We need to have fundamental rethink about how we deliver and pay for rail improvements.

Conclusion

I am fairly pleased overall in that I think by 2024, many places in the UK, will have a much better train service than they do now!

Delivery of High Speed Two, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible after 2024, will be the icing on the cake.

Will It Be A One-Nation Project?

I think it can be!

 

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?

I have been looking at the problems of maximising traffic and reducing journey times on the West Coast Main Line to the North of Crewe.

I think that what Avanti West Coast intend to do has a touch of the Baldricks about it.

Trains that go North from Crewe include the following Avanti West Coast services.

  • Blackpool, which branches off at Preston.
  • Glasgow, which goes up the West Coast Main Line via Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme and Carlisle.
  • Liverpool, which branches off at Weaver Junction, between Crewe and Warrington.
  • Manchester, which branches off at Crewe.

I find it interesting that according to Wikipedia, Avanti West Coast will be running their new Hitachi electric trains to Blackpool and Liverpool, but not Manchester.

Could it be that as these trains will be sharing tracks to the North of Crewe in the future with High Speed Two services to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, that these trains will be built to have the same operating speed on the West Coast Main Line, as the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that will serve the route?

The Manchester Branch is slower, so will remain 125 mph Pendelino territory.

The Number Of Electric Trains Ordered

Doing a rough estimate< I reckon the following.

  • One train per hour (tph) to Liverpool needs five 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • One tph to Blackpool needs six 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • .Two tph to Liverpool needs ten 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • If the new Hitachi trains, are capable of 140 mph, I reckon two tph to Liverpool might need eight 140 mph trains.

The order of new Hitachi trains is not large enough to run both Blackpool and Liverpool services.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Used On London and Liverpool?

Consider.

  • It would probably the best policy to run each route with one class of train.
  • A two tph London and Liverpool service is much needed.
  • Running the new Hitachi trains on London and Liverpool, would release extra trains for London and Blackpool and London and Birmingham.
  • Two tph to Liverpool needs eight 125 mph Pendelinos or eight 140 mph Hitachi trains.

But it would also mean installing ERTMS signalling on the London and Liverpool route to enable 140 mph running.

It does appear that ten new Hitachi trains, able to run at 140 mph could service the London and Liverpool route and release five Pendelinos for other routes.

Could The Pendelinos Run At 140 mph?

They were designed for this speed, as were the InterCity 225 trains and only don’t run at this speed because of the lack of digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 390 Pendelino train says this about the speed of the train.

The Class 390 Pendolino is one of the fastest domestic electric multiple units operating in Britain, with a design speed of 140 mph (225 km/h); however, limitations to track signalling systems restrict the trains to a maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) in service. In September 2006, the Pendolino set a new speed record, completing the 401 mi (645 km) length of the West Coast Main Line from Glasgow Central to London Euston in 3 hours, 55 minutes.

Perhaps it is time to unleash the Pendelinos?

Could the planned refurbishment of the Pendelinos install the required equipment, allow the trains to run using digital signalling at 140 mph?

What Is The Cunning Plan?

These are the possible objectives of adding the extra ten trains.

  • One tph between London and Glasgow in around four hours.
  • Two tph between London and Liverpool in around two hours.

Would this be one possible way to achieve these objectives?

  • Install digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line to allow 140 mph in places, where the track allows.
  • Improve the track of the West Coast Main Line, where necessary.
  • Run new Hitachi trains between London and Liverpool.
  • Release the current Pendelinos to other routes.
  • Upgrade the Pendelinos with digital signalling to allow 140 mph running, where possible.
  • Run 140 mph Pendelinos between London and Blackpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The real plan will probably be a lot better and more comprehensive, but it does show how the two objectives can be met.

Conclusion

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

 

 

 

December 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is The Walkway Through The PowerPack On A Class 755 Train Too Narrow?

These pictures show the walkway through the PowerPack on a Class 755 train.

For comparison here’s the walkway between cars on a Class 802 train.

Certainly, this passage takes a trolley.

There is no need at present for a trolley on a Class 755 train, but surely the Lowestoft and London service could have one.

December 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Cuckoo In The Nest

Look at these pictures of the passenger doors on Hitachi Class 802 trains, InterCity 125 trains and Mark 3 coaches.

All are single end doors at the two ends of the car.

But look at this pair of doors on one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 745 trains.

The doors are in the middle of the car.

  • Each car is only twenty metres long, as opposed to the twenty-six metres of a Class 802 train.
  • The pictures don’t show if the trains are fully walk-through.
  • They are also step-free between train and platform, which can’t be said for many trains.

I can’t wait to have a ride, which will hopefully be in a few weeks.

This is the comparison between a twelve-car Class 745 train and a nine-car Class 802 trains.

  • The Class 745 train is 237 metres long, and the Class 802 train is 225 metres long.
  • The Class 745 train has 757 seats and the Class 802 train has 647 seats.
  • The Class 745 train has 3.2 seats per metre and the Class 803 train has 2.9 seats per metre.
  • The pair of double doors on a Class 745 train will have to unload 64 passengers, when a full train arrives in Liverpool Street
  • The Class 745 train is step-free between train and platform, so buggies, baggage and wheel-chairs can be wheeled out.
  • The pair of single doors at each end of the car on a Class 802 train will have to handle 75 passengers, when a full train arrives at the destination.
  • The Class 902 train is not step-free between train and platform, so buggies, baggage and wheel-chairs will have to be lifted out!
  • The Class 745 trains running between Liverpool Street and Norwich via Ipswich will have a buffet.

Will the Stadler trains load and unload quicker than the various Hitachi trains?

 

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

New Trains For West Coast Will Be Built By Hitachi

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

With the new Franchise; Avanti West Coast, starting services in a few days, more detail is starting to be added to their plans.

New Trains

This is said about the new trains to be added to the fleet.

Hitachi is to build 23 new trains for the West Coast Partnership, with the aim of having them in service by 2022.

The fleet will consist of 10 seven-car electric units and 13 five-car bi-mode units, and will be based on Hitachi’s existing Intercity Express models.

These are my thoughts about the trains.

Routes

According to Wikipedia, the bi-mode trains will be used from Euston to Chester, Gobowen, Holyhead, Llandudno and Shrewsbury and the electric trains will be used from Euston to Birmingham New Street, Blackpool North and Liverpool.

In Service Date

The Railnews article and a very similar one in Rail Magazine say that the trains will enter service by or around 2022.

This probably means that they will be built after the Class 804 trains for East Midlands Railway.

Comparison With Class 804 Trains

It has been stated that the Class 804 trains will have the following. characteristics.

  • Twenty-four metre long cars, as opposed to twenty-six metres of a Class 802 train.
  • Four diesel engines in a five-car train, instead of three in a Class 802 train.
  • They will have a reprofiled nose.

They can be considered to be the Mark 2 version of Hitachi’s Intercity Express.

The car length for the Avanti West Coast trains has been specified at twenty-six metres, which is two metres longer than that of the current Class 390 trains on the West Coast Main Line,

So will Avanti West Coast’s trains be based on the Mark 2 version?. It’s logical, that they will.

Performance

The trains for Avanti West Coast will need to keep up with the Class 390 trains, which have the advantage of tilt.

The Railnews article says this about performance.

Although the new trains will not have tilt equipment, their superior acceleration should compensate for slightly slower speeds on some sections of line.

I think that the removal of tilt equipment could be a good thing.

  • Removal could reduce the weight of the train, which would result in increased acceleration.
  • Does tilting reduce the ride quality?
  • Of all the express trains on the UK network, the Class 390 trains, are the ones I avoid because the trains are cramped and so many seats have a bad view.. Is this caused by incorporating tilting or by crap design?

I also wonder if the reprofiled nose will improve the aerodynamics of the new trains for both the East Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast.

Better aerodynamics would help during a high-speed cruise.

Train Length

Class 390 trains have two car lengths.

  • An intermediate car is 23.9 metres
  • A driving car is 25.1 metres

This means the following.

  • A nine-car Class 390/0 train is 217.5 metres long.
  • An eleven-car Class 390/1 train is 265.3 metres long.

If the Hitachi trains have seven twenty-six metre cars, then they are 182 metres long or 35.5 metres shorter.

I find that surprising, but it does mean they fit shorter platforms. Is this needed for new destinations like Walsall?

Seating Capacity

The Railnews says this about seating.

There will more seats, because a seven-car train will have 453 and five-car sets will have 301. First said the seven-car version will have about the same number of seats as a nine-car Pendolino, because each IET vehicle is longer, at 26m

Seating on current trains is as follows.

  • A nine-car Class 390 train seats 463 passengers.
  • A five-car Class 221 train seats 250 passengers.

It would appear that the bi-mode trains seat another fifty-one passengers, than the trains they are replacing, which must be good for the routes to Chester, Shrewsbury and North Wales.

As the seven car trains are not replacing any other trains, Aventi West Coast will have n increase in capacity.

Adding up the numbers, it appears that the Avanti West Coast fleet will have three more trains and 3443 more seats.

If they should need more cars or trains, Avanti West Coast should be able to buy them easily.

Out of curiosity, how many passengers could be seated in an Hitachi train, that is the same length as an eleven-car Class 390/1 train.

As this train is 265 metres, a ten-car Hitachi train would be almost the same length.

Assuming the same passenger density as the seven-car trains, a ten-car train would have 647 seats. The current Class 390/1 train has 589 seats, so there would be an increase of sixty seats.

Train Finance

The trains are financed by Rock Rail West Coast; a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

If your pension is with Aberdeen Standard, you may ultimately own a seat or a door handle on these trains, as pension funds find trains a good way of turning pension contributions into the long-term pension, we’ll hopefully all need.

Nationalisation of the trains themselves would probably blow a hole in a lot of pension pots.

Food Offering

The Railnews article says this about food.

The details of catering on board have yet to be finalised, but Railnews has learned that there will be a buffet counter as well as trolley services, and that one of the main food suppliers will be Marks and Spencer.

Over the last couple of years, a food war seems to have developed between Virgin and LNER and as a coeliac, I’ve noticed an improvement in gluten-free food.

Marks and Spencer have done a deal with British Airways, so surely a deal with a train company must fit that model.

  • M & S already deliver to shops in most of Avanti West Coast’s destinations.
  • M & S are one of the best on getting allergies correct.
  • M & S are one of the UK’s most trusted brands.

FirstGroup, who are a seventy percent sharewholder in Avanti West Coast, might like to roll this food model out in their other rail franchises; Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and the future East Coast Trains.

Hull

Hull station is an interesting case, although it has nothing to do with Avanti West Coast.

  • It is a major terminus for Hull Trains and TransPennine Express.
  • Hull Trains market themselves as a quality local train service to and from London.
  • Hull station does not have a M & S Simply Food.
  • M & S are closing their main store in Hull.
  • There are reportedly spare units in the large Hull station.

A well-designed M & S food hub in Hull station could be of great benefit to both FirstGroup and M & S.

Conclusion

Hitachi seem to be able to manipulate the train length to give customers the capacity they want.

But that is good design.

 

 

 

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Rochdale Still Doesn’t Have A Direct Link To Manchester Airport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Richdale Online.

I recently went to Rochdale to see Ipswich play and what surprised me about the town, was how far it was from my hotel close to Manchester Victoria station.

I went on a tram and it took over an hour and it was also very crowded.

I then walked about a mile to the football ground.  Luckily a friendly Rochdale supporter showed me the way.

But is Rochdale’s link to Manchester Airport, any worse than say Walthamstow’s link to Heathrow or Gatwick.

  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by train – 1:05
  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by tram – 2:02
  • Rochdale Station to Manchester Airport by train – 0,:55
  • Rochdale to Manchester Airport by taxi- 0:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground and Heathrow Express – 1:05
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground – 1:27
  • Walthamstow to Heathrow Airport by taxi – 1:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Gatwick Airport by train – 1:22

Note.

  1. All journeys, except the taxis, need at least one change.
  2. My lawyer son lives in Walthamstow and always flies from Heathrow.
  3. He gets there by Underground, with one cross-platform change at Finsbury Park.
  4. Crossrail won’t help the man on the Walthamstow Underground.
  5. In Manchester the taxi is quicker, but it isn’t in London.

These are my thoughts.

Mancunians Are More Impatient

Not my view, but the view of a Northern station guy, who has worked on Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly and busy stations on the London Overground.

He thought that they were sometimes in such a hurry to get on a train, that the train is delayed.

He also said, if you ask Londoners to stand behind the yellow line, they do. Mancunians don’t!

Access To Northern And TransPennine Trains Is Bad

Consider.

  • There is often a step up into the train in Manchester.
  • Manchester Metrolink is generally step-free into the tram.
  • Parts of London Underground/Overground are step-free.
  • The new TransPennine trains have pathetic and slow end-door access.

The two train companies have bought fleets of trains that are not fit for purpose.

The Manchester Airport Rail Link Is At Full Capacity

Manchester Airport station, does not have the best rail line from the City Centre.

Wikipedia says this.

Any future additional services to the Airport are in doubt without further infrastructure works; unresolved issues surround the lack of new ‘through’ platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which have been shelved by the government and the Styal Line to Manchester Airport operating at full capacity with little resilience to absorb delays.

The Rochdale Online article blames the stations in Manchester, but the Styal Line is equally to blame.

The Long Term Solution Is High Speed Two

In the 2030s, High Speed Two will solve the problem by using a tunnel between Manchester Airport and the City Centre.

It will also do the following.

  • Provide direct access between Manchester Airport and the Midlands, the South and London.
  • Provide direct access to Liverpool and Warrington in the West.
  • Provide direct access to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, in the East.
  • All services will probably be at least five trains per hour (tph).

But High Speed Two won’t provide a direct link to Richdale.

Passengers between Rochdale and Manchester Airport will still have to change in the City Centre.

Unless of course, some TransPennine services to Manchester Airport are discontinued, as they can be done by High Speed Two.

This would free up paths to add extra services to Manchester Airport.

An Interim Solution

Not only Rochdale, but other towns and cities across the North like Bradford moan about lack of a direct service to and from Manchester Airport.

So what would I do?

Ban Freight Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This may not be possible, but it should be a long term objective.

It will cost money, but it would release capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Ban Trains Without Level Access At Stations In The Castlefield Corridor

I know that Northern and TransPennine have just bought a load of new trains, but they make matters worse in the stations through the Castlefield Corridor.

All Trains To The Airport Must Be Eight Cars

This makes sense as it increases the capacity, but use the same number of paths.

  • Eight-car Class 379 trains – Stansted Express – 160 metres and 418 passengers
  • Five-car Class 802 trains – TransPennine Express – 130 metres and 342 passengers
  • Eight-car Class 331 trains – Northern – 190 metres and 568 passengers

It does appear that the new trains are also setting new standards for train length.

ERTMS Signalling Should Be Installed Between Manchester Victoria And Manchester Airport

ERTMS signalling would give more flexibility on the route.

Create A Manchester Airport Express

This has been suggested and would have the following characteristics.

  • Running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Eight cars
  • Airport-style interiors
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Four tph
  • Running twenty-four hours a day.
  • It would have step-free access to the Metrolink at Manchester Victoria, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly.

Ideally it would use dedicated platforms at Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria. The platform at Victoria would hopefully have cross-platform interchange with services going through the station from East to West.

Reduce TransPennine Services To The Airport

TransPennine Express runs the following hourly services to the Airport

  • Cleethorpes via a reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Edinburgh or Glasgow via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Middlesborough via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Newcastle via the Castlefield Corridor

Why not cut-back either the Newcastle or Middlesborough service to Manchester Victoria and make sure it has good cross-platform access to the Manchester Airport Express?

These services are regularly cut-back anyway due to the congestion.

Demolish Manchester Oxford Road Station And Build A Station That’s Fit For Purpose

Manchester Oxford Road is one of ultimate design crimes on the UK Rail network.

  • The new or refurbished station would be step-free.
  • Platforms would be able to accept two hundred metre long trains.
  • A well-designed bay platform would be provided to turn trains from the North efficiently.
  • Up to four tph could probably be turned back.

Network Rail do station and track layout design generally very well and I’m sure that a redesigned Oxford Road station could improve capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Improve Deansgate And Manchester Piccadilly Stations

If longer trains are to be run through the Castlefield Corridor, then the platforms at these two stations will need lengthening and passenger access will need to be improved.

Is There A Place For Tram-Trains?

Manchester are keen on using tram-trains to improve the Metrolink network.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the layout of the Metrolink in the City Centre.

Note.

  1. Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Victoria all have step-free connections to the trains to and from Manchester Airport.
  2. The new Trafford Line will branch off at Pomona.

I think it is likely, that any new lines run by tram-trains will pass through at least one of the connecting stations.

This will increase the list of places that will have good access with a single change to and from Manchester Airport.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a high-capacity link between Manchester and the Airport.

But it does appear that the current timetable leaves little or no room to expand the service.

That is why, I believe a simpler but higher capacity service, based on a Manchester Airport Express could be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Future Hitachi AT-300 Trains Have MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I have mentioned this possibility in a couple of posts and I feel there are several reasons, why this might be more than a possibility!

What Do We Know About The Second Iteration Of An AT-300?

The first order for East Midlands Railway is for thirty-three five-car trains.

  • Four engines instead of three.
  • 125 mph on diesel power.
  • A modified nose profile.

I find the nose profile significant, as I don’t believe that the current trains are aerodynamically much more efficient than British Rail’s legendary InterCity 125 trains.

On the other hand, Bombardier’s Aventras look as if the company’s aerospace division has been involved in the design. They certainly are very quiet, when they pass close by.

The second order for West Coast Rail is thin on detail, but they do mention that services from Euston could reach as far as Godowen.

I would also feel that 125 mph on diesel could be very helpful on the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

Will 140 mph Running Be Commonplace?

Very much so!

For 140 mph running by the current trains, the following is needed.

  • Tracks able to accommodate that speed.
  • ERTMS signalling
  • In-cab signalling

Wikipedia speaks of unspecified minor modifications to the trains.

To answer my question, I believe there will be running over 125 mph, if not 140 mph on substantial stretches of the following lines.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

I also believe other routes could see large increases in operating speed on certain sections.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Breckland Line
  • Bristol and Exeter
  • East and West Coastways
  • Golden Valley Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • Hitchin and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Reading and Exeter via Newbury

If trains are capable of 125 mph and faster running without electrification, I can see Network Rail, doing what they have shown they can do well on the Midland Main Line, which is increasing line speed.

Note that on my list, I have included the second route to Norwich via the East Coast Main Line, Cambridge and Thetford and Kings Lynn services.

I can envisage hourly 125 mph services to and from Norwich and Kings Lynn joining and splitting at Cambridge and then running at high speed between Kings Cross and Cambridge.

It would be a massive boost for West Norfolk and Norwich, but it would not require extra high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

There must be other routes that by proven conventional track engineering can be turned from 80-100 mph lines into 125-140 mph high speed lines. No problem electrification to promote, design and erect. It just needs appropriate trains.

I can see the following routes without electrification being run at 125-140 by the new AT-300 trains.

  • Euston and Holyhead
  • Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln
  • Kings Cross and Hull
  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn/Norwich
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Leeds
  • Paddington and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil
  • Paddington and Gloucester/Cheltenham
  • Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil

There are probably other routes.

Without doubt, the new AT-300 trains must be able to run at 140 mph on lines without electrification, once Network Rail have raised the operating speed.

Thoughts On AT-300 TrainsWith MTU PowerPacks

These are my thoughts on various topics.

Weight

The data sheet for the MTU PowerPack gives the mass at around five tonnes for a diesel engine of 700 kW.

Depending on the way you read the figures this appears to be less than that of a similar power diesel..

Fuel Economy

This is obviously better and MTU are quoting a forty percent saving.

Regenerative Braking

This comes as standard.

One PowerPack Per Car

I always like this concept, especially as many trains these days seem to have a lot of powered axles.

It also reduces the energy losses in the cables between cars.

The East Midlands Railway trains seem to have five cars and four engines, so is that four motor cars and one trailer.

Would trains be lengthened by adding extra trailer and/or motor cars as appropriate in the middle of the train?

Simpler Control System

MTU will have responsibility for the software of the PowerPack and all Hitachi’s control system for the train, will need to do with the PowerPacks is tell them how much power is required.

Hopefully, this will help in the debugging of the train, for which Bombardier had so much trouble with the Aventra.

Batteries

It appears that the design of the PowerPacks is very flexible with respect to size and number of battery packs.

Would it be an advantage for a train builder or an operator to tailor the battery capacity to the speed and length of a route.

Compatible AT-200 Local Trains

The AT-200 is Hitachi’s smaller and slower train of which the Class 385 train is an example.

If a version were to be produced with say three or four cars and one or more MTU PowerPacks, Hitachi would have a very nice bi-mode with a lot in common with the new AT-300, which would ease servicing for train operators, who were running both trains

Hitachi’s Relationship With MTU

MTU engines are used in the current Hitachi trains, so unless I am told otherwise,I am led to believe they have a good working relationship.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next generation of AT-300 use MTU PowerPacks.

November 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On A Tri-Mode AT-300 Between Waterloo And Exeter

Note that in this post, I’m using the Class 802 train as an example of Hitachi’s AT-300 train.

In writing my post called What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?, I realised that an efficient tri-mode train with electric, battery and diesel power could have a range of over a hundred miles.

Suppose a Class 802 train was built with the following characteristics, were designed for service on the West Of England Line.

  • Five cars, which would seat around 350 passengers.
  • Two diesel engines replaced with batteries of the same seven tonne weight.
  • At least 840 kWh or perhaps as much as 1,500 kWh of battery power could easily be installed.
  • One 700 kW diesel engine would be retained for electrification failure and to boost battery power.
  • All electrical equipment on the train will use the minimum amount of electricity.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Aerodynamics would be improved, as I believe Hitachi are doing.
  • I believe that the train could have an energy consumption to maintain 100 mph on the West Of England Line around two kWh per vehicle-mile.

So what would be the range of a five-car train on just 840 kWh of batteries?

  • The train would consume 10 kWh per mile.

So this would give a range of 84 miles.

The diesel engine could be key.

  • At 100 mph, the train does a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In this time, the diesel engine can generate up to 7 kWh.
  • The train would need just 3 kWh per mile from the batteries to maintain 100 mph.

This would give a range of 280 miles,

This is more than enough for the 125 miles between Basingstoke and Exeter St. Davids stations.

Other people read books in the evening, I do puzzles and mathematical exercises.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a forty-year-old InterCity 125 needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph. Surely, modern trains can halve that figure.

Suppose Hitachi, improve the aerodynamics and the energy consumption of the train, such that it is 1.5 kWh per vehicle mile, which is a figure I don’t consider impossible.

This would give a range with  840 kWh batteries of 112 miles.

With selective use of the diesel engine and a charging station at Exeter, this train could easily run between Waterloo and Exeter.

Passenger Capacity

The passenger capacity of the current Class 159 trains is 392 in two three-car trains working as a pair.

A five-car Class 802 train would probably seat 350 passengers in comfort.

Train Length

These are the train lengths.

  • A pair of three-car Class 159 trains are 156 metres long.
  • A five-car Class 802 train is 130 metres long.

So it would appear, there would be no platform length problems.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train or AT-300 would appear to be ideal for Waterloo and Exeter.

Details of the AT-300 trains, that have been ordered by East Midlands Railway and the West Coast Partnership are not very comprehensive, but do say, the following.

  • Five-car trains will have four engines instead of three. Would they be smaller, with an added battery? Or will they use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.
  • They will have a new nose. For better aerodynamics?

, But I believe they will make extensive use of battery traction to reduce the use of diesel.

 

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments